Children’s Judgments of Moral and Conventional Violations Committed by Individuals with Disabilities
Young children are sensitive to actions that violate moral or conventional norms, and often conceptualize people who commit such violations as unkind and deserving of punishment. However, there are many circumstances in which people behave in non-normative ways because they cannot act otherwise—for example, if they possess a disability that prevents them from behaving in accordance with norms or prescriptions. This study was designed to explore whether children (ages 4.00-8.99 years) alter their evaluations of people who commit violations when those persons have disabilities. A total of 77 children were presented four scenarios in which each of three characters (one typically-developing, one who possesses a perceptual disability, and one who possesses a physical disability) commit either a moral or conventional violation. For each scenario, children were asked about each of the three characters’ intent and degree of naughtiness. Results indicated that regardless of violation type (moral vs. conventional), younger children (4.00-6.49 years) and older children (6.50-8.99 years) both judged the characters with no disabilities as naughtier than the characters with disabilities; older children judged the characters with disabilities as less naughty than younger children.